Weight loss – not just another New Year’s resolution!
I came across some good news recently regarding weight loss, namely that a recent study demonstrated that nuts (which are high in calories) do not contribute to weight gain. In fact, some studies suggest that they may help with weight management.
There are many reasons for this, but firstly it is important to address one fundamental and erroneous pre-conceived idea that many people have about weight. Namely, that our body weight is determined by the number of calories in, minus the number of calories used. So, as nuts are high in calories (100g of almonds = 576 calories), it stands to reason that they would contribute to weight gain. The science, however, does not back this up, which is great news as nuts are full of minerals, such as Brazil nuts, which are well known to be one of the best sources of selenium.
One of the key reasons for this apparent contradiction is that nuts do not cause a huge upsurge in insulin – a key fat storage hormone. Nuts are high in fat, however, fat has a negligible impact on insulin levels, which means that nuts, like almonds, have a very low glycaemic load.
GL stands for Glycaemic Load. In a nutshell (pun intended!), it’s a unit of measurement that tells you exactly what a particular food will do to your blood sugar. Foods with a high GL (such as a piece of chocolate) have a greater effect on your blood sugar, which isn’t desirable. Foods with a low GL (such as vegetables) encourage the body to burn fat, which is what we’re aiming for. Keeping your blood sugar balanced is the concept at the heart of the low GL diet – sustainable weight loss will follow, if you are overweight, and weight gain prevented.
A Cochrane review of six randomized controlled trials comparing low-glycaemic-index (GI) or glycaemic-load (GL) diets with other diets, has found that overweight or obese people lost more weight and had more improvement in lipid profiles (i.e cholesterol) with the low-GI eating plans.Cochrane Reviews are systematic reviews of primary research in human health care and health policy, and are internationally recognised as the highest standard in evidence-based health care.
In my experience nuts used as a snack or part of a meal, can have an appetite satiating effect and you may not get as hungry as quickly afterwards. As you may already know from experience, being hungry or possibly having low blood sugar, especially in the evening after a long day at work, can lead you to making poorer food choices and overeating. So, eating a small portion of nuts as a snack on the way home or before leaving the office and/or while the kids are having their evening meal, may prevent you from overeating later on and help you make healthier food choices.
In addition, I have found that when individuals lose weight, without going hungry (which is key to any successful weight loss programme), then long-term weight loss is achievable. Furthermore, you may also notice that your mood improves, if your energy levels are more even, which is an added bonus.
So, I hope you didn’t skimp on the nuts this Christmas and if you did, rest assured that as part of a properly managed GL weight programme, you can carry on eating nuts while losing weight.
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Joe Alvarez BSc ANutrSeptember 4th, 2016